We adopted children that were slightly older on purpose. Some of that was because we already had teens and had experienced the 'baby' stage.... and partly because we knew that there were plenty of people hoping to adopt baby's and not as many ready to adopt toddlers....at the time. Now the waiting list for even toddlers seems to be just as long, praise the Lord!
All adoption requires a loss. A significant one. There isn't a way around it. There is a birth family some where that no longer has this child in their lives. So often the birth family, at least in international adoption, has already experienced death or loss of at least one family member.
I was reading a blog earlier that spoke about holding a friend's baby then having to give him back. The warmth the child brought and then the cold aftermath when he was returned to the mother's arms. I had that experience recently. I got to hold my friend's baby boy, he snuggled in, laid his cheek on mine and just held on for a moment. It was almost as if he knew these mother's arms were missing a baby in them.
For just a few minutes I held him close, closed my eyes, and just felt his weight and warmth in my arms. What joy!
What sorrow for the birth family that loses that warmth.
Being in touch recently with N's family has been an emotional roller coaster for me. We've learned so many new things. Gotten to 'hear' the desperation in the emails for info on N. The loss is so hard for me to relive ....and honestly the guilt that I have him to love and they do not.
E has some family but not much. The loss I feel for him and those he's left behind is a whole different set of feelings. Without giving too much of his story, his relinquishment came after much pain already.
Many parents who choose to adopt do so after years of trying to conceive biologically. The truth is that God made women to reproduce. It's how we continue on this earth right? And not being able to conceive is a pain unbearable for some. I will not pretend to know the depth, although knowing that I chose to no longer conceive years ago, is a pain I feel every day. I also don't even try to pretend to know why some women conceive without difficulty and other's cannot. That's a question for God.
I do know several couples and single women that chose to adopt first without first having bio children. They always knew they wanted to adopt and did so. If they have bio kids that's icing on the cake. I love that. ;o)
In so many ways adoption causes a hole in some one's heart.
There is SO much gain in adoption as well.
A mother gets to hold the baby she's been dreaming of, a father fulfills his dream of fatherhood. A child gets to know the love of a parent, a bed in his/her own room, kisses and snuggles from a mommy and daddy. A permanent place to call home.
Watching the changes in N and E have been a joy to see. N has always been full of life. He suffered a loss that I am not sure he understands. I don't know all the details of when he was relinquished, how he reacted, what he felt... what it meant to his little 2 yr old mind. But if you have ever been around a 2 yr old you know they can be so very aware. There is a scene in "There is No Me Without You" where a father has to give up his son. I saw my N in the story and just had to put the book down for several days. Every time I thought about it... I hurt for N. I could put the book down, but he could not escape that pain.
To see his sweet face now is a gift. I thought about the enormity of that gift this past weekend. N is in the children's choir, and they sang at ALL 3 services. While he sat up front he found us in the audience, and waved and blew kisses and gave us the "I love you" sign. He just beamed when he spotted us. After his first song he looked up to me, I gave him the thumbs up, and he just broke into the biggest grin. The love in that boy is amazing... and we get to witness it daily. It's those times that I know He's a gift. A gift from God.
E's transformation over the past year is phenomenal. He too suffered great loss, then spent more than 12 months in the orphanage waiting... became so sick and suffered both emotionally and physically. Oh to see him now. To see the life in him. Watch him run with N, or chase the dogs, or wrestle with Z. Meds have healed him physically, but the love of a family? That has gone a long way to healing him emotionally and spiritually.
In speaking to my new friend M (from Operation Christmas Child)... he said our giving the boys a home is wonderful by itself, but the best gift of all is that we have given them eternal life. They know Christ.
We have gained new family in Ethiopia, we have gained an appreciation for Injera and Wot, we made new friends, new connections and a realization that the world is so much bigger than we are.
The boys can now run and play, they have an education, opportunities to learn and grow in ways we can only imagine. Perhaps some day they will go back to Ethiopia and make a difference in some one else's lives.... or perhaps not? Which ever they choose.
The pain of adoption is very real, on so many levels.
The gain also very real. Not only for the children finding homes, but the homes they fill. It's not always easy for either party. Sometimes transitions are hard, some times it takes longer to bond a grow that expected, some times life throws you curve balls. It's an adventure.
It's a glorious adventure! One I hope to experience again... soon! ;o)